Adaptive introgression reveals the genetic basis of a sexually selected syndrome in wall lizards

Nathalie Feiner, Weizhao Yang, Ignas Bunikis, Geoffrey M. While, Tobias Uller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The joint expression of particular colors, morphologies, and behaviors is a common feature of adaptation, but the genetic basis for such “phenotypic syndromes” remains poorly understood. Here, we identified a complex genetic architecture associated with a sexually selected syndrome in common wall lizards, by capitalizing on the adaptive introgression of coloration and morphology into a distantly related lineage. Consistent with the hypothesis that the evolution of phenotypic syndromes in vertebrates is facilitated by developmental linkage through neural crest cells, most of the genes associated with the syndrome are involved in neural crest cell regulation. A major locus was a ~400-kb region, characterized by standing structural genetic variation and previously implied in the evolutionary innovation of coloration and beak size in birds. We conclude that features of the developmental and genetic architecture contribute to maintaining trait integration, facilitating the extensive and rapid introgressive spread of suites of sexually selected characters.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadk9315
JournalScience Advances
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Apr 5

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Evolutionary Biology


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